(This is part two. To read part one, click here.)[divider]
We live in the world of unbalanced equations. We dwell in the realm of the unsolved problem.
Our days and our hours are the notes of a dissonant chord, a chord which has yet to resolve.
And we, ourselves, are only half-men.
* * *
I stare at the paper a few moments more, faintly hoping for the daydream to resume.
When it does not, I yield myself to the assignment. And that is when something very peculiar happens.
The experience is nearly indescribable. Magic, I’m convinced, is the only appropriate term for it, though even that will hardly suffice.
Life is messy, perplexing, and unkind.
You never quite get what you bargained for, always something more or something less.
Success comes to those who break the rules. In relationships, too, there is no true formula, no model to guarantee a particular outcome.
Life is chaos. It is mayhem.
But here, on this simple sheet of notebook paper, I discover another world entirely.
When I multiply by two, I actually get twice what I started with. No more, no less. When I simplify the equation ‘til it says y = mx + b, I actually discover a perfect line.
It’s bizarre, and yet, it’s wonderful.
This is the world of the pure, the true, the beautiful.
* * *
I can imagine what it must have been like in the land that once was Sumer, upon learning, for the first time, of great Hammurabi’s code.
Or what young Israel must have felt after being handed down the Law of Moses, its decrees as numerous as the stars.
Centuries later, the Greeks must have felt it also.
They must have felt it in the mandates of Draco, but also in the proofs and teachings of their mathematicians. In the works of Pythagoras, Euclid, Plato, and the like.
What they felt then, we too feel now: that towering, intimidating, and terrifying knowledge of perfection.
* * *
Mathematics, it seems, is much like a compass.
It’s tuned to a part of reality which we, ourselves, cannot actually see. Perhaps which we, ourselves, cannot even experience.
A compass, while informing us that True North exists, does nothing to guarantee that we will ever reach it. And in this sense, it could be considered a sort of cruel joke, or a tease.
But a compass offers us something else, also.
In the midst of the chaos and the mayhem and the perpetual storms of life, a compass stays true. It always points north.
It points north at day and at night. It points north in the calm and in the storm. It points north if you watch it and if you ignore it completely.
It always points north. For it is tuned to something deeper.[divider]
*Photo Credit: Spreng Ben (Creative Commons)